We spent last week in our home state…on vacation. It’s weird to go to the place you spent most of your life and stay in a hotel. But that is exactly what we did. We took our kids to DC for the week and showed them as many sights as we could, or at least as many as we could find on a map.
Washington, DC itself is, thankfully, exactly as we left it, but the Maryland suburbs that we used to call home are almost unrecognizable and we haven’t even been gone that long. The second night we were there we drove on a toll road that has been the stuff of legend our entire lives. The Inter-County Connector (See? I don’t even know how to spell it properly.) enraged various groups for various reasons over the last 30 years. It would get stuck in legislation that would last over multiple governmental changes and we got so used to the “Future Sight” signs that we never really expected they’d be replaced with the actual road. When we moved, there were bulldozers lined up and I STILL didn’t believe it would be a reality.
This week we drove on it and it was a glorious respite from the high-blood-pressure inducing traffic that defines the DC suburbs. The Husband said driving it was like riding a unicorn. We could hardly believe it.
That road (and all its mystic qualities) was just one more addition to the long list of reminders that I don’t live there anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I love where I am and my family will hate me for saying it, but I never want to go back. That said, just because I’ve moved away, doesn’t mean it’s gets any easier to feel like a visitor in my hometown.
My own kids have no memory of the neighborhood I feel such close ties to. They barely remember the friends they had there and yet those people are indelibly etched on my heart. The Husband and I had a ball pointing out all the new things that have gone up since we left. Guess the economy still hasn’t reached Montgomery County Developers. In the past, I’ve always felt my heart tug when we drive the streets of my Maryland. This time was different. This time I felt like a visitor. It was a restful, wonderful vacation filled with people we love but I felt like the people enclosed in our little mini-van were on an adventure in a new land. There was familiarity among the company, but the familiarity ended there.
I realized something at the end of the week. My brother in law was saying that “That” road felt strange to him because it was surrounded by trees and not buildings or homes. Huh, I thought, it didn’t strike me as odd at all. Later I realized it was because that road was the only thing that seemed familiar. The new ICC reminds me of the Garden State Parkway (my own toll road) stretch from my house to my inlaws-minus a rest stop or two. I actually said to my brother in law, “see I guess we’re used to it because it reminds us of the roads at home.”
Home. Apparently it isn’t about the state you’re in, but rather where your life is.
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